Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Jeep Photos 101

Sell your Jeep with these seven simple secrets!
By: Tom Smith

So you've got a one-of-a-kind Jeep to sell and you're ready to place a free classified ad on But wait - you're not a professional photographer. How are your photos going to turn out? Will potential buyers get the right idea of your Jeep's condition?

Regardless of what you say about your Jeep, photos add a level of authenticity your words just can't. Let buyers see what your Jeep has to offer with these seven quick tips for photographing your Jeep.

1. Check your camera

Before you take a photo, be it with your smartphone or handheld camera, be sure to give it a once over. Although there may not be too much to go wrong, at least make sure the lens is clean. No one's gunna see how beautiful your restoration is if there's a huge thumb print over your lens.

2. Opposing corners 
The angle on this '81 CJ7 shows off the front
(complete with winch) and the side perfectly.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then get your money's worth! Taking a photo straight on of the front, back or side of your Jeep shows that one side great, but could you show more than one side at a time?

Whenever I shoot for I make sure to always get a photo from one corner of the vehicle, then the opposite corner. That way I know I have the front and one side and the back and the other side in just two photos. This will give a potential buyer a well-rounded idea of what kind of shape the body is in.

3. Composition 
This is a sleek turboed TJ, but wouldn't it be nice
to see all of the roof?

Before you release that shutter, take a quick second to look at more than just the center of the frame - more than just your Jeep. What's in the background? Is there a telephone pole awkwardly placed so it looks like it's coming out of your Jeep? Here's one of my pet peeves: is your finger showing in the side of the picture (and I don't mean to hide the license plate)?

Make sure all of your Jeep is in the frame! When you "cut off" a part of your vehicle, it makes tension in the photo. A buyer may also wonder why that portion was cut off. Whenever I take a photo I always look around the edges of the frame to be sure there is nothing that will distract a viewer from the subject I want them to see. 

4. Get low or high

Doesn't this Unlimited Rubicon look powerful
from below?
The better your photos, the more likely your Jeep is to sell. When your audience is looking up at your Jeep from a low angle, it looks more powerful or commanding (and thus in better shape). Not only that, but they might get a better view of that new lift you just put on too.

You don't want your Jeep to look just like every other one listed for sale. At the very least, a low or high angle sets yours apart from others. Try standing on a stool or (sturdy) chair to give your photos some perspective. Don't just take your photo standing next to your Jeep. Crouch down or grab a step stool to find a unique angle.

5. Interior / Engine Photos 
The engine in this '76 CJ5 is in pretty good shape!
That could be a selling point to a buyer.

What's inside counts. It's a shame to see a great Jeep for sale with just one photo of the exterior. What's it look like inside? How's the engine holding up? Take a moment to show your buyers what they want to know, even if you've already written it down.

A buyer needs to know what may need work in the future. Even if your engine compartment or interior isn't the cleanest, it's better for a buyer to see it before they show up. Another good idea is a plain photo of the undercarriage.

6. Location, Location, Location

Although it may not seem fair, what's behind your Jeep helps sell it. There's a reason you don't see cars in magazine ads pictured in front of an ordinary home garage: a destination adds flavor to your subject. That is to say, it helps a buyer imagine themselves in your Jeep or what they can do with it. Often you'll see Jeeps on pictured in front of a western landscape or a mountain range. Let's face it, that makes it look a lot better.

Maybe you don't live in viewing distance of the Rockies, but any backdrop is better than none. Go to a local park or maybe a historic street to give your photos a more attractive setting.

7. The little things count 
This '83 CJ7 really pops with the woods behind.

It wouldn't be the best idea to only photograph the things that may be wrong with your Jeep, but you also don't want to ignore them. If there's a particular dent or patch of rust, take a photo. Let the buyer see that it really isn't that bad.

This works the other way too. If there are subtleties that can help sell your Jeep be sure to show them off as well. 

At the end of the day, there's dozens of techniques pro photographers use to represent their subject in the automotive industry. But regardless of where you are and what camera you are using, these seven secrets are fast and, mostly, free. So show viewers exactly what your Jeep has to offer.